* Argentina to pay $9 billion to Paris Club - local daily
* Economy Minister declines comment, says talks continue
* Argentina had said it owed $6.03 billion (Adds analysts’ comments)
BUENOS AIRES, Jan 26 Reuters) - Argentina will agree to repay nearly $9 billion in defaulted debt to the Paris Club, well above what it had said previously that it owed the major creditor nations, a local newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Argentina, Latin America’s No. 3 economy, had said it owed $6.03 billion in principal and interest at the time of its massive 2002 default, with Germany and Japan holding some 60 percent of that. Other countries including the Netherlands, Italy and the United States hold less than 10 percent each.
The new figure acknowledges punitive interest payments, according to local newspaper Pagina 12, citing a source close to Economy Minister Amado Boudou, who declined to comment.
“When we have some news we will disclose it but for now we are in negotiations,” he told reporters after an event hosted by the Economy Ministry.
Ministry officials went to Paris this week to continue talks with the Paris Club, which groups creditor nations.
Pagina 12 said that in exchange for agreeing to a higher payment, Argentina will try to extend the repayment period to five or six years from the 18 months the creditors requested.
Argentina hopes to agree a repayment plan with them by June, resolving one of the last vestiges of its 2001-2002 economic crisis.
A successful deal could help Argentina return to global credit markets and facilitate loans to foreign companies operating in the country.
Argentina stopped repaying some $100 billion in sovereign debt at the height of its the crisis and has not issued bonds on the global market since because of related lawsuits.
Traders in Buenos Aires tracking the progress of the talks said the focus would shift to the timeframe once the final repayment figure had been agreed.
“The Paris Club will be important when they reach a deal on the conditions, especially on the unpaid interest and the repayment period,” said Diego Martinez Burzaco, a trader at Buenos Aires-based brokerage Puente Hermanos.
Roberto Drimer, an analyst at consultancy VaTnet, said the fiscal cost was “significant but secondary.”
“The important thing is that some sort of agreement is reached in the second half,” Drimer said.
President Cristina Fernandez said in November Argentina had persuaded the Paris Club to negotiate a deal without the usual oversight from the International Monetary Fund. For more see [ID:nN15139120]. (Reporting by Alejandro Lifschitz and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Helen Popper and Luis Andres Henao; Editing by James Dalgleish)